With European elections coming up in May 2019, you probably want to know how the European Union impacts your daily life, before you think about voting. In the latest in a series of posts on what Europe does for you, your family, your business and your wellbeing, we look at what Europe does for children participating in decision making about their lives.
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You might remember how important it was when you were a child that your voice was heard in the world of grown-ups. Did you know that it is more than just a child’s desire and that according to the international law, children have the right to be heard? Children’s views and opinions should be taken into account in family life, schools and in court proceedings in all the matters that concern them.
Protection of children’s rights, including their right to be heard is the responsibility of individual EU countries. On the level of the EU, that right is recognized in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. It established EU agenda for the rights of the child in 2011, stressing that children must be given a chance to voice their opinions and participate in the making of decisions that affect them. EU has also put in place a range of laws and policies that focus on children’s right to be heard. According to one law, for example, court must ensure that a child is given the opportunity to be heard during proceedings following parental child abduction. The child must also be heard in proceedings concerning visiting rights. Another law gives a child victim the right to be heard during criminal proceedings. It enables individual children to participate in proceedings, by promoting a child sensitive approach.
European Commission is keeping a keen eye on developments regarding children’s right to be heard throughout Europe. It evaluates the legislation, policy and practice in the EU, recognizes the gaps in national legislation and policies and makes recommendations.
- European Commission’s publication Evaluation of legislation, policy and practice on child participation in the European Union, https://publications.europa.eu/en/publication-detail/-/publication/3f3c50b2-6a24-465e-b8d1-74dcac7f8c42
- European Commission’s website The right to be heard – child participation, https://ec.europa.eu/info/policies/justice-and-fundamental-rights/rights-child/right-be-heard-child-participation_en